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Huntsman Endorses 'Revenue Neutral' Tax Hike

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said on Tuesday that he would consider a tax increase in order to reinvest it in the tax code if he were elected president in 2012.

Speaking on CNBC's morning show "Squawk Box," the former U.S. ambassador to China said that along with the "revenue neutral" tax hike, he would also create more of a flat tax to bring some of the 50% of Americans who don't pay taxes into the equation.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman

Huntsman's spokesman was careful to point out that the former governor did not intend to raise taxes to close the deficit.

"He said he'd reinvest it in the tax code by lowering the rate and broadening the base," Spokesman Tim Miller told TheStreet in an email. "He clearly said he doesn't think we should use revenue increases to close the deficit."

The flat tax idea has become a talking point for Texas Gov. Rick Perry as well, who said that he'd support a flat tax to make the current tax code simpler. Huntsman said on Tuesday that he supported the flat tax for the same reason: It's simple.

"His point is it would be revenue neutral," Miller said in the email. "It's only increasing taxes if you close loopholes for the sake of raising revenue."

However, when asked on "Squawk Box" if his idea to "reinvest" revenue into the tax code was a tax increase, Huntsman replied: "That's a tax increase."

Huntsman was appointed ambassador to China by President Barack Obama, which GOP candidates criticized as an odd relationship for a man who wants to run against the very same president.

The former Utah governor released a video Tuesday attempting to separate the candidate from the president.

In one of the clips from CNN's "Pier's Morgan Tonight," Huntsman leaned into his former boss: "He had two and a half years to do the most important thing demanded by the American people: Fix the economy, create an environment that is conducive to job growth, and he has failed us. He is a good man, he is earnest, but he has failed us on the most important issue of our day."

A consensus of national polls for August gathered by RealClearPolitics showed Huntsman in a distant ninth place among Republican presidential hopefuls at 2.2%. Romney led the consensus with 20.2%.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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